When looking for a partner to market your practice, the real “proof is in the pudding.” In other words, what can a marketing partner do for you? The best marketing partner is typically a third-party company (or marketing agency) that has a solid understanding of the hearing health market and a proven ability to get results.

According to Kevin St. Clergy of MedPB, and author of Audiology & the Art of War, you only need to ask yourself one question: Is my potential marketing partner focused on helping me or just focused on helping himself?” As St. Clergy advised in a recent webinar from CareCredit on attracting patients, if you are paying for a bunch of mailings and advertisements—with no strategy and no way of tracking success, then you’re just dumping money into scattered “marketing activity.”

Ask a Marketing Partner the Right Questions to Get the Results You Want

St. Clergy encourages practice owners to ask potential marketing partners pertinent questions, such as: “Do you track how many calls your marketing generates . . . and how many of those calls are converted into appointments for my practice?” If they can’t show you how the marketing activity converts to calls and appointments, and they don’t actually have the data to determine what works, then you aren’t paying for results, he says. “If you get in the habit of paying for results, you’ll see much more from your marketing.”

Where Should Your Marketing Dollars Go?

To give you an idea of trends in marketing spending vs. returns on your marketing investment, consider some practice benchmarking figures from Ron Gleitman, PhD, VP of business development and practice management at Sivantos Inc, shared in an article for The Hearing Review. Through Sivantos, he commissioned a practice benchmark study, and found that referrals to hearing care practices from physicians and existing patients often delivered greater returns than other types of marketing.

Included in the 2014 practice benchmarking study were 261 hearing practices in locations across the US. In regard to sources of new patients for these practices, the survey showed that 68% came from physician referrals, and 19% came from existing patient referrals, leading to 65% of a practice’s overall revenue. The expenditure for marketing the practice to physicians was 8%, and the marketing expenditure for marketing to existing patients was even less. Traditional non-medical print marketing brought in 20% of new patients, and the practice’s website brought in another 12% of new patients. The survey showed that 49% of marketing dollars were spent on traditional non-medical print marketing, while 11% of the marketing budget was spent on the practice’s website. About 21% of practice revenue was generated by traditional non-medical print marketing, and 3% was generated by a practice’s website.

When you look at the amount of “marketing spend” compared to “revenue generated” for each type of marketing, it may convince you to keep an open mind with regard to how you attract new patients. The data shows that the amount spent on traditional print marketing outweighs the revenue generated from this marketing approach.

Does your marketing partner provide you with data that shows you the returns you are getting for each marketing dollar you spend? For more insightful details regarding the survey data, see the practice benchmark survey at HearingReview.com.

More Marketing Bling for Less Cha-ching!

So is it possible to find a marketing partner who can prescribe the “magic pill” that brings more patients to your practice? Maybe you hope to find a partner that helps you fulfill several business needs. According to St. Clergy, you can find an affordable multi-service company that can offer you marketing along with other services.

Seek a company that offers the most marketing services for your investment. For example, some third-party financing companies, such as CareCredit, also offer marketing services as a benefit to enrolled members. If your practice has limited funds available to spend on marketing, this value-added benefit may give you the best return on investment (ROI). Further, CareCredit frequently conducts patient behavior research in order to provide its members with insightful data to help guide marketing strategy.

Just be sure to continue asking the right questions. St. Clergy notes that you should use a scientific approach to choosing the right marketing partner:

  1. State the problem
  2. Figure out the size/type of population you want to reach
  3. Find how many competitors are in that same market
  4. Measure your success
  5. Pick a partner who understands your audience

If your marketing partner is experienced with hearing health device consumers, their team knows that the patient’s journey from awareness (at the beginning of hearing loss) through acceptance and action could take several years. Choosing the right marketing messages to address these important moments along the path to purchasing hearing treatment can also be challenging. Ask your potential partner:

  • What type of research will you rely upon to develop an approach to communicate with potential patients?
  • What is your messaging strategy (ask for a strategy that shows recommended messaging at key points in the patient journey through hearing loss, from awareness to acceptance, and then adoption).

It’s important to know these milestones in a potential patient’s life: it helps practice owners like you figure out the right marketing materials needed to guide patients in reaching their goals. It’s also vital to reach the right audience at the right time with a compelling message so that they take the desired action.

Pick a Marketing Partner with Good Connections to Physicians

A marketing partner who develops good working relationships with doctors in your market can do a lot to draw in more people to your practice. Typically, doctors in general practice receive only minimal education on hearing issues. This presents an opportunity for audiologists—with the help of their marketing partner—to assist in a few ways:

What can marketers to do help people diagnosed with hearing loss to get care? According to Bob Tysoe, Founder & Marketing Consultant for Hearing Healthcare Marketing in Portland, Ore, they must use their relationship marketing skills to set up partnerships with physicians and staff. As Tysoe explained in a recent marketing webinar, the entire staff in a doctor’s office can help. He calls it the Total Office Call concept.

  • Audiologists can provide clinical articles on hearing loss to physicians and schedule events like “Lunch n’ Learns”
  • Audiologists can bring the most current patient education information on hearing loss to medical assistants (who may need to help patients find a hearing healthcare provider)
  • Audiologists can give information on payment options to coordinators in doctors’ offices to ease the patient’s financial fears. This is typically where patients get “sticker shock,” so options like third-party financing can help remove that obstacle

Not only is it best to look for a partner who can strategize your marketing to patients, but also one who can guide you to holding onto them. Let’s say you invest in a recommended integrated marketing campaign…now what? If you have not trained your staff and others in your practice on how to provide all patients with an excellent experience and handle the people who call as a result of marketing campaigns, then you’re throwing money out the window. The marketing partner helps get your phone to ring, and hopefully, helps guide your office staff to convert those calls into appointments and retain the patients who walk through your door!

Content provided to the 4MyHearingBiz community courtesy of CareCredit and The Hearing Review.

Image credit: © Andrey Popov | Dreamstime.com